Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Film #41 Hanna

It's an intriguing prospect, a kind of Bourne-meets-girl story. Essentially a chase movie, 17-year-old Hanna (Soairse Ronan) has been raised by her rogue ex-CIA father (Eric Bana) in northern Finland(!) to be an ever-ready assassin/all-round hard nut. However, the spooks in Langley (led by red-headed Cate Blanchett) get wind of their location and go all out - with the assistance of a camp German hitman-cum-cabaret-owner (Tom Hollander) - to capture or kill them both.

But it doesn't really work. Some of its problems are common to many post-Bourne Identity/Casino Royale action movies that take themselves very seriously: the too-silly premise, ludicrous dialogue, needlessly complex plot, sledgehammer-subtle 'themes', excessive location-use, unnecessary length and so on.

In the case of Hanna, you can also chuck in a few other issues that are fundamentally flaws of direction. Joe Wright - who did a good job on Atonement - has little to be proud of here. He throws the kitchen sink at the screen, shamelessy - and jarringly - using dozens of visual cliches without thought for the overall composure and feel of the piece. The tone of the film is all over the place too, and that's before we get onto the bizarre interlude involving an insufferably irritating family of British hippies (presumably included as some sort of in-joke).

And just as his film lurches between extremes so has Wright in his press interviews gone from disingenuous (ranting at the sexualisation of young female characters in Hollywood yet inserting some A ma soeur!-ish soft focus shots of his mid-teen stars in bikinis; boasting of a European sensibility yet taking a holiday-brochure approach to the exotic locales) to delusional (comparisons with David Lynch). He is certainly a director of some promise, but like a wild-eyed young novelist trying to get every idea in their onto the page, he needs the firm hand of a good editor.

There are a few redeeming features, however. Tom Hollander understands the high-camp of his lemon-tracksuited henchman (20% Omar Little, 40% eighties football hooligan, 20% Joel Grey from Cabaret and 20% Funny Games thug) and unleashes the comic anarchy he hinted at as 'The Fucker' in The Thick of It. The Chemical Brothers soundtrack - featuring the second Grieg-vs-techno mashup of recent months (see The Social Network) - is perfectly decent and the actual action sequences are generally fine, if suffering from the classic one-at-a-time-now-lads syndrome. And it's worth mentioning that Soairse Ronan really does a very good job of carrying this film; all the more extraordinary given that she was only fifteen when shooting began.

Nevertheless, a poor film.



  1. what a fantastic idea. i had a free cinema pass for the local multiplex and even i didn't bother watching everything. are you a masochist?

    i am still going to watch hanna despite your review. although i may be back to agree with you. i love the "he throws the kitchen sink at the screen" phrase, i am imagining an awful paul greengrass/michael bay moment.

    welcome to lamb

  2. Thank you! I'm delighted to be part of the LAMB community.

    And OK, keep this quiet, but I have missed one or two movies (or maybe more) - that's work and life getting in the way. I do sometimes feel like a bit of a masochist (during Big Mommas and the like) but on the other hand I've seen and enjoyed a fair few movies that I would never have watched otherwise.

    Hope you enjoy Hanna more than I did. Maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea.

  3. is there a list of the movies you've missed due to having part of a life?

    still haven't seen hanna, it's my plan for this evening after last nights 'meh' that was paul.

    i saw quite a few movies i wouldn't have by having that pass, i think my favourite has to be gamer, seen because i didn't have to pay and then watched repeatedly because the ideas were so good. but i saw nothing even remotely as bad as big momma 3. you sick twisted individual.

  4. ok so i saw the film and thought i'd come back and share with you. ouch. you weren't wrong about joe wrights direction.

    the story itself isn't bad really. a little predictable by the end but i would've enjoyed it if there had been a better director in charge.

    action clearly isn't his strong suit. and i found the sound to be awful, almost as bad as eric bana and cate blanchetts ability to stick with just the one accent.

  5. Yeah, the accents are whole world of wrong unto themselves! Shame, as I quite like both of those actors.